Some might say that 2010 was the year of Internet TV's emergence. Sure, there were a lot of things that went right for it during the year and a couple things that didn't. So let's take a look at the highlights including the new Apple TV, Google TV, Hulu's rapid growth and more.
Wonder Twin Powers, Activate
Form of Internet TV, form of TV Internet! The big deals this year was getting your TV on Internet and getting Internet on your TV. With a new iteration of Apple TV, Steve Jobs hoped to steal some thunder, expand their user base and dominate another media vertical. But it's still lacking even though it's got a far lower price point ($99 versus $299). You still need iTunes to manage your content, it can't read from your standard DVR and generally, it feels like half a product.
Equally half a product is Google's new foray into the arena, Google TV. The price is prohibitive for what you get, you've got a clunky interface, a full keyboard and limited apps and content.
Then again TV makers have realized the potential of getting Internet on your TV without the need for additional purchases or applications. Samsung is quite possibly the most forward-thinking here with their line of connected devices and services. They might be the furthest ahead as well in regards to uptake and merging of those two screens.
In fact, you know you're on the spot when Nielsen decides to start taking into account what it is you are doing. They recently reported that they would now begin to take Internet-enabled TVs into account in their TV usage tracking.
Re-Broadcast Spotlight, Litigation
Several firms popped up and got noticed this year for their re-broadcasting service where they streamed out TV feeds to computer users via the Internet. Unfortunately, for them, they got noticed by the broadcasters who have done everything short of putting out contracts on the lives of the execs at these firms to try and stop them. Have they done it? Not quite.
Some blatantly illegal places got slapped with cease and desists and went legit...mostly. Ustream and Justin.tv have found new religion and are aiming at the more personal live streaming crowd instead of the illegally streamed re-broadcasts of sports matches and such.
Other places claim they're far from illegal and are paying the fees necessary to allow them to do exactly what they're doing, re-stream cable broadcasts. faced a big pile of cease and desist copyright violation letters, and yet, they're still around and still kicking. After their initial launch in September which was surrounded with loads of legal motions, they sort of died off and disappeared from the radar. But they're still operating apparently and expanding as they just added Chicago stations to their lineup earlier this month.
Ivi.tv then fired back at Comcast for monopolistic business practices in regards to their proposed merger with NBC Universal which it is still seeking FCC approval for.
Meanwhile, FilmOn, which recently had a restraining order put on it for it's re-streaming. the founder considers the service a cable system, some companies and judges seem to disagree. In return, he has fired off a lawsuit against CBS and CNET going so far as to call them 'hypocritical, thieving liars.' Reading some of the other comments and antics I can't help but call it all childish. However, I do quite like the FilmOn service I experienced in Europe recently.
More Hardware Fragmentation
How many options do you want in hardware? How about a dozen or more? Already we've got the Logitech Revue for Google TV, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee. Dell has something but haven't decided who they will side with. They were evaluating Google TV but perhaps they've shelved that idea for now.
Brightcove is even hoping to reach the home via the Yahoo! widget engine. It's not hardware but it will be hardware-limited. There are over 70 models that support it though from makers like Samsung, Sony, LG, Vizio and Toshiba.
The good thing for consumers is there are more than enough options for you to find what you want on your favorite TV. Whether you want an all-in-one solution, a media PC or a set top box with DVR capabilities. However, it also means there are so many options now that without a good amount of research and reading you might simply get buried in the possibilities and never manage to pull the trigger on a purchase.
TV Heads Online
No matter what, TV content online is here to stay. All of the major broadcasters have their own sites, Hulu is working to build up a big pile of multi-channel content itself but has recently been getting stabbed in the back, by its own board of directors. NBC Universal just cut some SNL deals with Netflix as have some others. This, along with some other factors probably, have caused Hulu to push their IPO into the new year after strongly stating it would happen this year.
Meanwhile, Netflix has been gathering up its own hoard of TV content to continue and expand its offering. It's run into some roadblocks from certain Hollywood studios, but is still seeing more success than stumbling.
The monthly Video Metrix from comScore rounds up the top ten video properties each month. How many of those sites are TV related? Take a look. 40% are broadcasters.
Meanwhile, Hulu is the #1 online video ad network, CBS and CWTV are in the top 10 ad networks as well.
Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Video Content – November 2010
Views Ranked by Unique Viewers - Total U.S. Home/Work/University Locations Property Total Unique Viewing Minutes Viewers Sessions per (000) (000) Viewer Total Internet : Total Audience 172,343 5,190,734 884.6 Google Sites 145,829 1,979,988 271.2 Yahoo! Sites 61,803 241,208 26.4 VEVO 50,320 261,368 85.4 AOL, Inc. 47,687 251,112 30.2 Viacom Digital 47,282 146,570 55.2 Facebook.com 42,500 131,209 15.9 Microsoft Sites 35,348 144,422 49.9 Fox Interactive Media 31,552 115,961 18.1 NBC Universal 29,192 63,293 20.1 Turner Digital 27,714 95,346 24.1
Internet Television in 2011?
You can bet that the scramble will continue as consumers now spend as much time online as they do in front of their TV. Broadcasters are the dinosaurs who don't seem to be gaining as much traction as they might like while the studios making the content seem to have got a clue and are bypassing them and dealing directly with the online services. This is definitely going to continue to be a trend next year. Sure, the broadcasters will try to write up new contracts that will include digital streaming (which they didn't have in many of the previous ones) but Netflix has already proven that it has deep pockets and is willing to dig into them to pull together the content they want.
Consumers want a single login to get all their content, much like the TV itself provides. Turn it on and everything you want is there. However, we no longer wish to watch TV on the terms of the broadcasters. We will time-shift, ad-skip and generally get the content when and where we want it. If Netflix and Hulu manage to pull together the majority of the content, they will dominate.
Screen convergence got a big boost recently by Samsung in Spain. However, that's platform specific and I don't like it. I know it's going to continue as each hardware maker tries to find ways to get consumers on board with multiple devices. Personally, I think it'll be worse for consumers because you'll either need multiple accounts or you might make purchases of your second or even third choice because of this just to save on logins and multiple accounts. I like Samsung but I think the Galaxy Tab is way overpriced. That means I won't be an all-Samsung household because my Android tablet will be reasonably priced (i.e. not Samsung) it also means that my new Android phone probably won't be from them as well. No worries, that service doesn't exist in my corner of the world anyway.
Internet TV is also expanding outside of TV moving over. New content is being made specifically for online. Places like Revision 3, AOL and more have realized that they can get a higher engagement level on original content and are making more and more of it. Perhaps, they might show the broadcasters a thing or two and they'll catch on as well.
What to expect in 2011:
- More hardware-specific content services (BOO!)
- A revamped Google TV (Ya!)
- Screen convergence (Ya!)
- More original online series (Ya!)
- Broadcasters continuing to scratch heads while figuring out online (BOO!)
- More anti-Netflix jibber jabber from studios (BOO!)
- A Hulu, Netflix showdown...or merger? (Boo/Ya!)
- More international expansion for the broadcast TV online services (YA!)